Loss of Manatee County's ag research center still vexing

December 2, 2013 

The comics section isn't the only place in the paper to find ironic humor. The Herald article on the students at Braden River High studying hydroponic gardening was quite humorous to me and other persons who are aware of the former use of their school grounds.

Their school grounds are the former site of the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, which was kicked out of the county by the Board of County Commissioners at the beginning of the century.

The researchers there used hydroponic gardening to discover the cause of blackheart of celery and blossom end rot of tomato. It was also used to determine types and rates of fertilizer for field use, especially after the use of plastic and drip irrigation.

The experiment station was always a popular stop for the Farm City Week tour, which doesn't visit the station any more. For the $45 fee, though, you would think the short drive into Hillsborough County to Balm would not be too far out of the way.

I suspect the main reason for not going is so Manatee citizens won't see what they lost, and the economic impact the station would have had on our community!

One has to ask why would we sacrifice real long-term economic development for all the citizens for the short term gain that a few houses bring? Part of the answer is that the short-term gain goes to make a few influential individuals wealthy, leaving the rest of us to finance through taxes the problems that arise in these new communities.

Russell W. Owens


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